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Hiker still in intensive care after rescue in desert

October 1, 2010 |  7:53 pm

Ed Rosenthal, the real estate broker from Culver City who was lost in a remote area of Joshua Tree National Park for six days before he was rescued, remained in the intensive care unit Friday at Hi-Desert Medical Center in Twentynine Palms, but his condition was upgraded from fair to good.

Rosenthal, 64, was stable, sitting up and taking fluids, said hospital spokeswoman Karen Graley. “He’s resting comfortably,” she said.

It remains unclear when Rosenthal will be discharged. “He’ll probably remain with us for the weekend,” Graley said.

Rosenthal’s family has been besieged by media requests for interviews about his survival in the rugged desert terrain. Graley said Rosenthal has retained a public relations firm and plans to hold a news conference next week in Los Angeles.

An experienced hiker, Rosenthal set out hiking Sept. 24 from the park's Black Rock Campground, but lost the trail and made a wrong turn. He wound up in East Wide Canyon, which descends to the park’s southern border. After a day and a half in the wilderness, he ran out of food and water, and decided to remain where he was and wait to be rescued.

Rosenthal, a poet who was never without a pen, began to write messages on his khaki hiking hat, telling his wife and daughter how much he loved them and leaving detailed instructions about what to do after his death.

Searchers followed Rosenthal’s tracks for miles, but then lost them. He was spotted Thursday morning by a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department helicopter.

His wife, Nicole Kaplan, has appeared on numerous television reports clutching the hat, but the family has asked the media to give them a respite until Rosenthal can tell his own story.

-- John Hoeffel in Twentynine Palms